Wednesdays with Jillene: the dress (check in)

Did you think I’d forgotten? Did you forget? A little more than 4 months ago I wrote this post called: the dress.  Near the very end of that there post I said:

Easter is still about 4 months out. Let’s check back then, on her dress situation… sure, but more so on us… Let’s check back in on the situations we were facing and how God worked in them even when we couldn’t see the way through.

And here we are, 4 months later and Easter has passed. You might have thought you got out of this little check in since I blogged the other day about Easter without a single itty bitty mention of that whole dress thing…

But you didn’t and neither did I. No, in fact, God has been keeping the whole thing front and center in my mind this week…

A little recap from the December post:

 To set the stage: I was driving my van, loaded with children. The moment filled with the usual noise: baby fussing, toddler babbling, kids chatting, someone whistling, arguments brewing… When Avari’s voice rose above the fray.

Avari: “Mama.”


(not paying attention, possibly waiting it out to see if she really needed to talk to me)

Avari: “Mama, I’m gonna wear this pretty dress for Easter.”

Me: “Avari, honey, I don’t think so. That dress isn’t going to fit then.”

Avari: “Yes it will Mama. I’m going to wear this dress for Easter. I like this dress. It is so pretty. I want to wear it.”

Me: “I understand that. But it won’t fit. Easter is a long way from now and that dress is already getting too short.”

Avari: “No it isn’t. It fits fine. I want to wear it for Easter.”

(tears start)

Avari: (a little more indignant now) “I’m going to wear this dress for Easter.”

Me: “Avari, there are many holidays between now and Easter: Christmas, Valentines’ Day… even your birthday. I’m sure you will have a new pretty dress before Easter that you will be happy to wear.”

Avari: (getting a little loud and even more pouty) “But I want to wear this dress. It is my favorite dress and I want to wear it for Easter. I don’t care if it is too small. I want to wear this dress!

Me: “I get that. But Easter is a long way away. Let’s just wait and see what happens.”

Avari: (so many tears, more arguments, getting angry)

God cut through the moment and spoke right to my heart. It was so powerful that I’m pretty sure I had to put my hand to my forehead to contain the intensity of the lightbulb moment. I forgot to tell you a crucial detail when I set the scene: as I was driving, I was deep in thoughts filled with uncertainty and mourning the “what wouldn’t be’s” of changes I was facing. And God… God reached right in that moment straight to my internal struggle.

Avari wanted to hold onto that dress. Actually, she was mad that the dress wouldn’t fit come Easter. She couldn’t see that her closet was proof of all the wonderful dresses she had in the past/has right now as evidence that she’d likely have very nice dress when this one no longer fit. She couldn’t trust that there would be something better in her future.

fullsizerender-7What’s more, when Avari first wore this dress she didn’t like it The fabric was scratchy. The neck felt funny. I had to make her give it a second, even third try. And now? Now when it was time to move to a new size dress… Now she’d forgotten all of that remembering only that it was her favorite.

So first, let’s check in on Avari’s Easter dress situation. The fun thing… she’d completely forgotten about her concern. In some ways not surprising, she is after all only 6. And in other ways completely shocking because when it comes to dresses she doesn’t mess around.

Over the months since December, Avari had many opportunities to wear dresses. Some  she liked a lot, others she wore just once, and still others weren’t quiet her size yet. (Good thing she had MANY older sister hand-me-downs to choose from and MANY generous friends/family who’ve given her dresses.) But, just a few days before Easter I brought a bag to her with a dress inside just perfect for Easter. After being a little perplexed, a BIG smile spread over her face as she exclaimed, “Oh, thank you momma! I just knew you’d find the perfect dress.”

And that was that.

She looked pretty cute in the dress, don’t you think?

While the dress was the start of the post it wasn’t the main point.

I’m just like Avari: mourning transitions because of things from the past that won’t be in the future when I have no idea the blessings God is bringing in the future through the change. We see it in scripture too, the tendency to take matters into our own hands, feel like the bad past is better that the unknown future, choosing to run away when things get tough, even being tempted to give up hope.

Avari has a closet full of dresses (from when she was little through dresses her sisters currently wear) that show evidence of beautiful dresses. What is our “closet of proof” of God’s faithfulness?

  1. Scripture- God has given us the Bible filled with evidence of his faithfulness and His promises for us. What scriptures remind you of God’s truths when the going gets tough?
  2. Great Cloud of Witnesses- in scripture but also in our daily living, God provides us with the testimony of others to the work of God in their lives. Who is your “great cloud of witnesses?” When facing the unknown, who can remember for you?
  3. Your Story- your own life is a testimony to God at work. What examples from your own life do you have to draw upon to see the hand of God at work in you?

Avari doesn’t (yet) have her Easter dress. Even so, today was the day to say goodbye to that favorite pink dress. As she put it on this morning, well, the dress was just too short to wear. So, I chose a pair of leggings for her to wear that dress one more time. And you know what she said?

fullsizerender“I will be okay. It is a very pretty dress. But I’m sure I will have a new, very pretty dress for Easter too.”

Easter is still about 4 months out. Let’s check back then, on her dress situation… sure, but more so on us… Let’s check back in on the situations we were facing and how God worked in them even when we couldn’t see the way through.

And here we are… 4 months later, checking in.

How has God been at work in your situation?

Did God work things out better than you could have imagined? As your heart sings, “Great is your faithfulness,” can you be brave enough to share your testimony of God at work so that He may be glorified and the body be edified?

Are you still in the waiting, struggling to find hope? Unlike Avari, the months may have passed, Easter has come and gone and yet you may still be waiting… like David is Psalm 13 crying out to God, “How long, Lord?”

What have you (or can you) learn from the journey?

(And yes, I’m really asking. I’d like to hear your answers. Leave a comment, send me a message or an email. Let’s chat!)


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Wednesdays with Jillene: seeing the trees

Sigh… not another tree picture! Yuppers! You betcha. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a fan of trees and trying to capture their beauty in photos. (You should see my photo app! I just did a quick scan and I have tree pictures for every season!)

This was a photo I took yesterday as I reflected on the word of the day for my Lent Photo-A-Day Challenge for April 11th: solitude. The kids are on Easter break this week and… let’s just put it out there… I’m not finding many moments of that! It isn’t just this week, solitude is hard for me to come by and I have a hard time making it a priority. There are too many things that need doing, to many people who need my attention, and too many “useless” things that waste time too!

So, back to yesterday, I took the family out for a walk. And, as I normally do, I found myself looking at the trees and found myself facing some truths I needed to hear.

There is the section of dense pines in Family Camp. They were planted quite close together and have grown very tall and thin. It’s so interesting how, having grown together from the beginning, they work together. The row facing the clearing have grown stronger, thicker and bear the brunt of the westward winds. The trees in the middle are thin and reach high. While the trees furthest east were weaker and have bent and broken as they succumbed to the weight of snow and the beating of wind storms. Where those eastern trees have been thinned, a new growth of deciduous trees is springing forth.

Reminds me a lot of the body of Christ, how we each have different roles to play yet how we work together, how we need one another, and how, like with the forest, when one generation passes, another one rises to new heights.

Almost 4 months ago I sat looking up at this tree on the wall. As I was listening to family and friends share during a funeral service. And it hit me hard. Not just because someone had passed away, but because of how he was remembered. Person after person shared stories about Mark, of his silly humor, of his many quirks, and acknowledging all of that… how they appreciated his unique roll in the body of Christ. The body of Christ took a deeper meaning for me that day.

One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Gives us some things to think about, huh?


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Summer Staff Testimony with Zoie

Camp Summer Staff are an amazing group of people. Did you serve on Camp Staff? If so, what year(s)? While we’ve been sharing stories from 2016, we’d be so happy to hear YOUR story! Over the last almost 65 years Camp Vick has been blessed with MANY people who, as the Body of Christ, have made this ministry! What a legacy!

Here is a little of Zoie’s staff story from the summer of 2016.

We are hiring our 2017 staff. Think you want to join our Ministry Team? Being on summer staff isn’t all fun and games, it is hard work. But it is also a chance to grow your faith, share the gospel and change your world one camper/guest at a time by living faith out loud.

Don’t have the whole summer to give? We need weekly volunteers as well: counselors, kitchen helpers, Bible study leaders, camp specialist… and more!

Click here to download a summer staff application and reference form.

Click here to download a volunteer application and reference form.

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Wednesdays with Jillene: I couldn’t help but notice

“Mom, why you’s hands blue?” ~Calah

“What happened to your hands? They are blue!” ~Joel

Turning my hands over in hers, over and over and over again… looking quizzically at me. ~Iris

“Um… Mom? You do know your hands are blue, right?” ~Elanor

“I couldn’t help but notice that your hands are blue. What’s up with that?” ~Isaiah

So… this thing happened when I was crafting in kindergarten. I didn’t mean to do it. For a few weeks I’d been working with the kindergarteners, one at a time, on making Easter egg Easter baskets (kind of like these) out of tissue paper. Well, on that fateful Monday four things happened: 1- The bright blue tissue paper wasn’t non-bleeding like the other colors. 2- The tissue paper egg slipped, almost falling off the table, and I instinctively reached out to catch it. 3- My hand was stained blue. 4- I was repeatedly asked why my hand was blue… by all of my children.

I didn’t draw attention to my differently colored hand, just went about my routine tasks. Yet, the noticeable change from my norm drew the attention (and questions) from all the narrawaggles.

“I couldn’t help but notice…”

That unexpected encounter with the balloon left my hand changed. It was only a surface stain, faded away by the next day.  The variation from my normal skin tone was unmistakable. I couldn’t hide it (unless I wore gloves) and I didn’t need to draw attention to it… my family “couldn’t help but notice.”

When we encounter Christ we’re changed, much more than at surface level, but from the inside out.

John chapter 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Christ is the light of the world; He is our light. And Jesus calls us to be a light.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Being changed by God will affect things that people can see on the outside. People will notice the things that we say or the things that we don’t say. They’ll be able to observe things that we do or do not choose to do. But deeper still, God changes us on the inside. And that… that is the light that will shine.

If all that following God changes in our lives is what we do, as observed on the exterior well, then our shining is for ourselves, shining our own righteousness. Bu,t when being a follower of God means that we’ve laid down ourselves and given God the place of Lordship in our lives, when we choose, in response to God’s great love for us, to live each day for Him, well… then we shine… not for ourselves but for the glory of God.

When we shine for the glory of God because of the glory of God, that’s something that can’t help but be noticed.

I admit the distinction often eludes me in every day situations: how to shine for the glory of God and not my own recognition. How do I choose to allow the light of Christ within me no longer be hidden without choosing to shine for myself? What does that look like in real, daily living?

God brought back this memory, something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. You’re gonna have to think back to a time before most conversations happened by text, before wireless phones allowed us to talk whenever, wherever… to a time when a family had a phone hung in a communal room… and it had a cord.

I was in middle school, I’d taken to talking to friends on the phone. Even back then I didn’t have short conversations. After a while I’d sit or lay on the floor with my feet on the wall. And we’d talk, and talk, and talk, and talk some more. During one conversation my friend, who was going through some really tough family times, stopped sharing her struggles and then she said, “I want to know why you’re different.”

I don’t think I understood what she meant. I stopped playing with the phone cord and sat right up. “I want to know how you can stay so positive even when things are tough.”

Honestly, I hadn’t realized I’d been positive. I hadn’t realized that I was doing anything different from my friend. But God reached through that moment and spoke to my heart.

That difference, that thing that she couldn’t help but notice? It was Christ. It was the hope of God in my life. Being a Christian didn’t stop bad things from happening but, in a way coming from the inside out, it changed how I responded… I didn’t even know it it was happening! And my friend wanted to know why.

So, I shared the love of God with her.

I’m still blown away by that moment. Astounded how the light of Christ transforms us, shines through us.

I’m challenged by that moment. Provoked by how brave I was and how little I got in the way of Christ when I was young to examine my heart now.

Sometimes I don’t think I shine very bright for God. But did you know this? The human eye can detect the light from one candle from about 1.5 miles away. Crazy, right? Light is powerful, darkness cannot overcome it and our eyes are acutely attuned to seeing it. How much more are our hearts/spirits able to perceive the light of Christ shining?

When someone looks at you and “can’t help but notice” the difference of the light of Christ shining through you, are you prepared to share why?  1 Peter 3:15 instructs us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

God, fill us with your light. Give us bravery we desperately need to let you shine and not try to hide you in us. Give us strength to fight the temptation to shine for our own recognition. When your light is seen within us, give us the words and understanding, gentleness and respect to share about your great love and the redemptive work of Christ! Amen. 


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Wednesdays with Jillene: waiting in the wilderness


We’ve been blessed to live here onsite at Camp Vick since 2002… 15 years now. There are many things that I know seemingly inside-out.There are many things that strike me anew… and that is a beautiful thing.
Micah started school in 2005 and since that point I’ve seen this view several times a day for the last 12 years as I wait for the bus.


A few years ago God used these big trees and their pine cones to speak to me.

In spring, in summerpine cone lade bough, through the fall and in the winter these evergreens stay, well, ever green. And while they don’t bear fruit or dazzle me with leaves of color, they are not dormant. So when, one spring day, I chose to look I was amazed by how many teeny, tiny pine cones were growing from top to bottom of the enormous trees.
So I showed the kids, who seemed to care only a little more than less. And time went on. Seasons changed, summer passed, the weather cooled and back down the driveway for bus duty I resumed my multiplicity of trips.

And I saw them again.

Winter came; snIMG_0121ow blanketed the landscape and I went to take pictures of the beauty and there I saw them.

The pine cones hanging.

“Pine cones, what’s the matter, why didn’t you fall when autumn came?”

‘Cause see, I didn’t know, that wasn’t their timetable. They weren’t born by a deciduous tree, they were on an evergreen; and as such, their timing takes longer, years in fact. So the pine cones grew on. If I judged the productivity of the pine cone against the growing season of the fruit of a leafy tree, I’d likely conclude they had missed their chance or something was wrong. While the purpose is similar, God’s design and timetable for a pine cone and an apple are not the same.


We can learn a lot about ourselves from the difference.

I’ve been doing a Lent Photo-A-Day Challenge on Instagram. Quite a challenge indeed as each day I focus on a new word and look to scripture as God speaks to me (and I’ve had fun taking pictures too). Yesterday’s word was: wilderness. And I remembered this photo from that September 2014 post.

See, the story of those trees, the pine cones and me… it isn’t done yet. A few months ago, standing at the end of camp road I took notice of those huge pine trees. But something was different. Do you see it?

The trees are empty. The pinecones have fallen; their time has come.

I’ve been watching these pinecones since August of 2013 when I first noticed the new growth covering the trees. See how cute those newly growing pinecones look?! (It’s okay if you don’t think so. I get it. My family thinks I am a liiiiittttllle weird for paying so much attention random things.) Three years of weathering season after season and now (my) little pine cones had fallen.

Their time had (finally) come! I remembered the words I’d written about pine cones, timing, and purpose. Oh how much we need to hear them; what’s more we need to heed them!

Friends: You have purpose. You have value. You have worth.

The purpose for which our loving Father has specially made you may not look like anyone else but the beauty of an apple doesn’t make a pine cone ugly. Your value isn’t lessened because your purpose may be more subtle. 

An apple ripens in one growing season while a pine cone may take years but that doesn’t make it slow or behind the curve. Your spiritual maturity isn’t lessened because your time has not yet come.

When a pine cone becomes squirrel food instead of a seed bearer, that doesn’t mean the pine cone failed but that its purpose was different. Our loving Father knows when and how best you were meant to be the utilized for His glory.

There was one last photo I put in that post. And man, that last photo though. It has stuck with me. Falling from the tree wasn’t the fulfillment of the journey for those pinecones nor was it the end but, instead, the journey continues.

There are days that picture gives me hope. There are days that picture speaks volumes of my struggle. Hope in God’s timing and purpose for me. Struggle in that God’s timing and purpose can look very different from what I’m expecting.

Walk around camp and you can find pine cones of many kinds in many stages. Some on trees. Many fallen. Some shredded right to bits. Only a small few have grown new trees.

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Good gracious… how often do I feel like a pine cone? Brittle, fallen, scattered on the ground… but that pine cone isn’t as destitute as it looks. And neither are we.

I love and struggle with Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Sometimes that looks an awful lot like the wilderness. And sometimes the wilderness is right where we need to be. Scripture shows us that over and over. Trusting God in those wilderness moments is where faith is needed, stretched, grown.

We’ve got these pictures in our minds, plans in our hearts… we’ve figured how this should go. Until it doesn’t. Maybe it takes too long. Perhaps the time comes but the outcome goes very differently. Then again, maybe we’re hanging out having no idea what we were made for in the first place. And we wait in the wilderness. The wilderness of unmet expectations, uncertain outcomes, unknown purpose, unseen timetable…

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is how we hope in the wilderness. Faith is how we endure the wastelands. In the wilderness faith is stretched. In the wastelands faith is grown.

We may wait in the wilderness and wander the wastelands for years. But God is faithful, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God meet us right in the wilderness, sustain us through the wasteland. Help us hope in you alone. Give us faith in your never-failing promises. Amen.


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March 3rd is cold and snowy… but… spring and summer are coming!

March 3rd is cold and snowy here at Camp Vick but we’re looking to spring and summer. Jill filmed a little video to give you info you need to stay updated on our 2017 season.

Info on:

  • 2017 Camp Brochures
  • Ministry Team Openings
  • Volunteer Camp Nurses Needed
  • May 6 and 13 work days
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Wednesdays with Jillene: seeking things that are “certain”

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Who really wants to talk about either? And here I go and start a blog post off with this quote?

I think it was bit unavoidable for this quote to come to my mind as March first sits firmly in a season for both. We are smack dab in the middle of tax season here in the U.S. and today, March 1st, begins the season of lent. Plus, I spend a lot of time seeking things that are “certain.”

This isn’t a post about taxes (sorry, I can’t help you out with that one). But it is a post about death. Well, death and new life.

Lent puts us face-to-face with death.

Christ’s death

our death

Many years as I celebrate Christmas my heart looks right towards Easter. Jesus, the greatest gift, was given to give his life for us. There are moments when it all seems so morbid, that while celebrating the birth of our savior I find myself looking to his death. It can be a part of Easter that I am eager to put aside as well… move past the mourning of the crucifixion and right into the joyous empty tomb of Easter dawning.

Lent, as Advent is for Christmas, serves as pause allowing my spirit and mind to focus and reflect as Easter draws near. And we start here on Ash Wednesdays thinking of death; yes, Christ’s death but more-so for me today the certainty of my own. Right here in this gloomy space is where the hope of 1 Thessalonians 3 meets me because as I face death (be it Christ’s, someone else’s, or my own) I do not need to mourn as those who have no hope. Why? Because in Christ death and taxes are not the only things that are “certain.”

No, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope; in fact, Christ’s death brings our greatest hope: new life.

Not the “hope” of new life implying something that we are wishing will happen. But through Christ we have the certainty of new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:5-11

He died that we might live. Galatians 2:20 says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

On this first day of Lent, here on Ash Wednesday we think of death, Christ’s death and our own. Christ gave himself as a ransom for our sins and through the redemptive work of Christ we have new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Daily we take our cross, daily we face our death and find new life in Christ. In death we find the hope of new life. God’s love for us and promise is that nothing… nothing in heaven or on earth… not even death itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In him we are more than conquerors. Death has lost it’s sting.


img_8219As many Christians around the world celebrate the beginning of Lent through “a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.” We celebrate the certainty of life, new life in Christ.

lentdevotionMy heart and mind are prone to distraction and wandering. This Lenten season I’ve started a devotion through YouVersion called “Lent Journey,” I’m taking the extra step to set a reminder so I’m less likely to forget! Also, over on Instagram I’m doing a #LentPhoto challenge.#LentPhoto A friend suggested I check it out and you probably know I like photography and what better way to couple that with my time on social media to be more intentional in focusing on Christ?

As we journey to Easter in this season of Lent, do you have practices or traditions you’d like to share?


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